The First Flap

Though I don’t yet have a specific date, the next book in the Anointed trilogy (it seems to require a name of some sort to qualify it as a trilogy, if for no other reason than to amuse me and my publisher), Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, will be in stores in spring of 2011.  It still seems a long way off, but that’s the process, and I have no choice but to wait it out, nervously tapping away as the editorial process ensues, as characters and plot lines are dissected, as event dates are put together, and as the reviews and blurbs trickle in.  In the meantime, however, the preliminary jacket art is in, and I can’t help but feel like it’s headed in the right direction.

The subtitle is yet to be added.

No telling where it’ll wind up, but it definitely represents the theme of the book well.  I’ll post the changes as they are made.  Feel free to drop in your thoughts.

——–

“Bishop” Eddie Long.

Who made him a Bishop, anyway?

He made his first public statements regarding the sexual misconduct charges Sunday morning, at 8am, from the pulpit.  The mere fact that his first statements to the charges were delivered from the pulpit is more telling than anything he said.  How better to draw further attention to the “church” and bolster its reach than to have the media in attendance, broadcasting your (lack of) denial, while thousands of followers scream and holler and praise JeebusAlmighty.  It was a circus.  It was exactly right for what he is.  If you read the transcript, it’s quite obvious from the outset that he’s proud of the attention–the opportunity even–that this scandal has brought his church.

“Good morning New Birth. And good morning to all our other guests.

And I would be remiss not to say good morning to the world.

You all may be seated in the presence of the Lord.

I do want to remind folk that we’re here at 8 every Sunday morning. Every Sunday morning.

And I’ll be here next week.”

The other bit that struck me was, fittingly, at the end of his presentation:

“Please hear this. Please hear this: I’ve been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man. But this thing I’m gon’ fight.

And I want you to to know one other thing. I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

He never denies the accusations.  He never defends his actions.  He simply states that it is a hard time for him, that he’s been accused, and that he–the pastor of a mega-church–feels like David, fighting for his life against the giant, Goliath.  I believe he may have that bit backwards, however.  These young men, whether honest or deceitful, are not Goliath.  The man who deemed himself anointed by God, the “Bishop” of 25,000 people willing to put money on his name, the person that is as much a politician of faith as he is an admitted multi-national corporation, stands with far more might, and far more capable defense than young men, who are armed with nothing more than accusations, and a date in court.

—–

From the shelves of the departed Wordsmiths Books vault, I leave you with a video of the Harry Potter cover band, Draco & the Malfoys.  They were one of a few who passed through, and one of my favorites (though the Remus Lupins are right there as well).  Their performance–with the rest of the gang that day for Wizard Rock–ranks as one of my favorite memories.  If you are a Potter-head, and haven’t heard these guys, then by all means, give them a listen.

Touched by the Long hand of God

You’ve all heard this one already, so I’m not going to tread over ground that’s already been flown around the world, massaged, and molested.  But the facts are the facts (at least the facts that are being reported): Eddie Long, Pastor of the Atlanta-based mega-church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple teenage boys.  The charges imply that Long coerced the young boys into sexual relationships, and…this is where I just add, yadda yadda yadda, because what more is there to say?  Then I say, “Of course, these are simply allegations, and Justice is Blind, and ants can’t carry celery, and stuff,” which is meant to pacify you into believing that I haven’t already prejudged the pervert.

If it didn’t work, then maybe you should eat more celery.

There are many issues at play here, not the least of which is the idea that a professed man of God, who has marched against homosexuality, is accused of homosexual acts with underage boys.  I can’t gloss that one over.  There’s also the fact that we have, in Pastor Eddie Long, a man who has accumulated vast amounts of wealth, and assets, from people who are offering their very wallet’s end, simply to give unto the God they believe in.  This man, who has been quoted as saying, You’ve got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that’s supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering,” has bilked these people of their meager earnings, and has done so with a sense of purpose and divine right that even the one he supposedly speaks on behalf of–that Jesus fella–did not.

Jesus wore sandals.  Just sayin’.

Eddie Long also offered up a quote that completely justified Anointed, for which I am eternally grateful. Behold:

“We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation.”

Ah…it just smells like redemption.  I may have missed the boat.  The Christ Corporation should have replaced Timmy Christ with a handsy black preacher-man.  Oh, well.  There’s more writing yet to be had.

Is there anyone else that finds this a little creepy, in retrospect?

But, for me, the real issue is that Bishop Pastor Molester Man Eddie Long has now–whether guilty or not–joined the long line of evangelists, who preach, and thrive financially from, the supposed Word of God that they cannot possibly, or are not capable of, believing in themselves. And in doing so, he has further alienated Christianity from those who are either agnostic, atheist, or simply wavering in between.  Yes, I’ve heard countless times already that he is but one voice amongst millions.  But he is one very prominent, and visible, one.  Much like Falwell, or Graham, or Hagee, or Mr. Toothy Shine, Joel O’steen.  He is the Tom Brady, the Barry Bonds, the Kobe Bryant, or any member of Congress, of Christianity.  He is to be held at a higher standard, whether he–or you–likes it or not.  Such is our culture.  And when you have something as virulent as religion, especially one that loves to jam itself into your personal space in order to share a message you might not have even asked for, you get emotional reactions that ultimately define lives.

We look to those who have succeeded, as possible glimpses of what we can be.  Likewise, we also look at those who have succeeded, where we believe they should not have, and scrutinize their acts, analyze their words, and fill the webber-nuts up with blogs, updates, and posts about how much we disagree with them.  This is natural.  This is human.  And this is what Eddie Long, and his misbehaving band of Christians, has done: He is the nail in coffin for many, many, people who were on the fence about Prince Jeebus.  He has removed any desire that they might have had to possibly give Christianity a chance.  If they were in the back seat of the car, listening to the debate up front, they opened the door and jumped.  Is this right?  Is this fair to the entirety of a religion?  Well, hell no, but it’s reality.  Unfair stuff happens all the time.  I think that might have been omitted from the Bible, but I’m sure God would like you to know.  Shit happens, and we have to deal with it.

Christianity has to deal with this.  I don’t.  It just gives me more to write about.  And what Christians around the world should take from this simple statement, is this: Back off.  Let people find their way.  Let go of the notion that you are some holy crusade to bring people to God (and it’s important to note that the word, ‘crusade,’ has some links to The Crusades that you might want to be familiar with).  And for God’s sake–no really, He’s getting a little miffed–quit giving life to mega-church evangelical poopyheads (that was for you B).  You want people to respect you as a faith, and look to you for guidance, and perhaps even walk alongside you?  Then don’t feed the pandas.  They will eat you.

I remember watching this movie and thinking, “This is why religion sucks.”  The video’s a little wonky at first, but evens out.  For some reason, I can’t seem to find a better one.  Hmmmmm.

Imaging Googe

Here’s the Googe image I referenced in a previous blog. Thanks to the ever vigilant Katie Moss for taking five seconds of her time to locate it for me.

It’s the simple joys in life…

Speaking of simple joys, I have somehow, over my time, managed to completely miss out on Chick Publications, which is not at all what it presents itself as.  There are certainly no chicks to be found on this site at all, which is always a bit of a sad, if you ask me.  But the chick-less nature of Chick aside, it’s an utter win to find a piece of religion that so insists that you pay it heed.  Apparently, as I am told, this Jack T. Chick person created these books–slightly more than a comic, I guess, but far less than Superman can offer me in such a short blast–that are handed out at various religious functions, on street corners, or at the Gap, if it’s a particularly slow day.

There are quite a few to browse through, or buy, if you’re in a festive mood.  I’m collecting the whole set.  They’ve presented me with a Michael Corleone moment.  I thought I’d finish up with Flutter, and leave Timothy, and gang, be after that, but they’re pulling me back in.

Here’s a little peek into the glory of Chick Tracts:

He has a Little Black Book, has he? Hmmm...must be quite the dater.

Ahh! Zombies! Oh, wait, never mind...they're flying away.

Fire, fire, fire! Hey...who's getting married? Jeebus?

Is it just me, or does the Beast look like Rob Zombie? I didn't know he had an army.

A thousand years? Awww...I can't wait that long! Mom, why doesn't God have a face?

The End?

Anyway, I have a new love.  Chick(less) Tracts are basically going to be responsible for a few more devil fiction books that I had no idea I absolutely had to write.  A lesson to all writers: Inspiration is everywhere.

Mah Birfday

Today is my birthday, or, as some have called it, the anniversary of my birth.  I don’t really care how you spin it, as long as it involves cake.

It needs to involve pizza, if at all possible, as well, though a good run through at a Hibachi joint will serve as a nice substitute, if necessary (and it’s generally superfineok with me if it is).

So, what, pray tell, do I want for my birthday?  Well, I did find seasons two and three of Six Feet Under on sale, so that’s an easy Win.  I was gifted the first two seasons of Dexter, so that’s Win number two.  Hibachi?  Check.  Cake? Check…and, check, actually (Win, Win).  Tasty Coffee? Archer Farms Fudge Brownie, with Bailey’s Irish Creamer (not Bailey’s itself I am sad to say), check, and Win.  75, ooo 7th Day Adventists? Chec…wait, what?

In honor of all that I am likely to do wrong over the next ten days, and because this is my damn blog, and I can write whatever I damn well please, I would like to say that there is no greater gift on my birthday, than this:

59th General Conference Session

(I have no idea who this guy is, but I hope I get to sell him a copy of my book)

3468625879_9457578da5_m.jpg

A General Conference Session is a unique occasion. There is no moment in the life of the Church which demonstrates so vividly–so tangibly–the extraordinary way God’s Spirit is moving among us. And so I’m delighted to invite your presence and participation at the 59th Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in Atlanta, Georgia, June 23 –July 3, 2010.
Now, I do have a job to protect, so I have some boundaries, but when you have someone tell you that you shouldn’t sell books on Vampires because it is an affront to God (sadly this wasn’t said to me, or I probably would have hissed, and bitten her), it evokes a certain need to speak your mind.  Of course, on the heels of my blog about Jesus slaying vampires, I’d say that, in relation to Vampires, the Christians have very little to be worried over.  I mean, zombies, or werewolves, or emo-goth-punk-hipsters of the FU I’m Texting Generation, are far more threatening at this point.  Frankly, I think the Second Coming is on delay while Jesus polishes his skills a la Neo and the Matrix, and catches up on South Park episodes involving the Goth Gang, but the next ten days may teach me otherwise.
Also–and as a serviceable farewell for the moment–I’d like to leave you with the opening paragraph of the worst book ever written, Apocalypse South, by Kyle Watson.  If you haven’t ever read this book, do it now.  Buy it used, and read it immediately.  This is complete, and unedited by these hands.  Frankly, it wasn’t edited by any hands and is the poster child of everything that is wrong with Print on Demand technology.
“A host of demons is hovering above the crust of the earth.  They are waiting on their leader to speak to them.  None of them are speaking words to one another, only hissing and snickering has come forth from the mouths on their evil angelic faces.  Their leader is dressed in a black robe wearing a gold colored breastplate, and his demon followers are dressed in brown robes with silver colored breastplates.  The leader starts to speak when a demon asks a question.
‘Satan, since we have lost the war in Heaven, what is our next plan?’
The Leader roars like a lion before he speaks.
‘How many times have I told you to call me Lucifer and don’t you ever again say that we have lost anything.  You hear me?” Lucifer says infuriated.
Ah…that’s better.
They say you can tell everything you need to know about a book from its first paragraph.  I gave you a couple of lines of dialogue to reinforce the point.  Now, go find a copy, and read it.  Then tell everyone you know.  I’m going to make a bestseller out of this guy yet.

Fluttering Your Way This October

I killed a man.

Well, actually I killed several people, but to keep to the point, I killed a man by the name of Timothy Webb.  I thought this would be enough to keep him forever out of MY life, but, alas, I was mistaken.  Apparently, God took quite a fancy to him, and his actions as Christ, and CEO, at The Christ Corporation, and decided to make him an angel.  He gave Timothy his metaphorical wings, granted him the gift of a Key that supposedly held the power of Jesus, patted him on the back, and sent him on his way.

His first act was to show up on the doorstep of MY imagination, and demand that I do something about it.  I just kind of stared at him, in terrible disbelief, and shrugged.  This did nothing to satisfy him, so he invited himself in, began rambling about being ill-equipped to be an angel, and something about Natasha–the maligned angel known as Satan in our world–recovering well from her temporary bout of humanity.  So, for the next few hours we sat, until it became apparent to ME that the only way I would get rid of Timothy would be to write another story for him.  I proposed the idea, made up a completely fabricated storyline, waived him on, and then proceeded to forge onward with a plot that, in no way resembled the idea I had discussed with Timothy.  From this was born, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction.

It now has a release date: October 1, 2010.

What is Flutter?  Well, it’s more devil fiction than Anointed, has significantly more explosions, plenty of characters who don’t survive to see the end, and an angelic system of social networking that is eerily familiar to Twitter.  But that’s not much of a description.  Kind of leaves you wanting, I admit.  So, instead, I offer you a brief look at some of what I wrote for my publisher, when I turned over the reigns of my baby:

In my eyes, it carries the same voice, and some of the feel, but none of the story structure of Anointed.  I wanted to write something, on the heels of a book that was philosophical, and, at times, rambling, with something a little more adventurous, a little more off the wall, and a lot more explodey (I really like that word all of a sudden)…I have included references, or creatures, as follows: Quantum Leap, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Back to the Future, The Matrix, a dragon, a vampire (tee hee…I like him!), a bobsledding monkey, a wizard/piano duel , zombies, and a chocolate hot tub.  Ok, the last may not be fantasy in terms of the genre, but you find me anybody who doesn’t like everything listed before it, that isn’t as fond of the hot tub, and I’ll quit writing.  Oh, also, there’s a reference to swine flu, and to Google Buzz (which is mistakenly called Fuzz).  That, along with Natasha in a bikini, a porch made of cheese (it’s Gouda than you think!  Ugh…), a God who thinks he’s a child, a video game of explosive proportions, ugly angels, an escalator in the sky, a prison in Heaven, the rebirth of Jesus, and a very unfortunate moment for the masters of The Christ Corporation…there’s so much activity, and no break to sit in a restaurant to discuss the history of Satan, or in an office to discuss the history of Christ.  What I hope I have created is a book that you really just can’t put down, and one that makes you both want to read its predecessor, and anxiously await what is to come.

I like that I can be a complete tard when I write to her.  Granted, she published the first book, so it’s not like I’m going to fool her at this point.  It’s not quite back copy material (that bit you might read on the back of a book that summarizes the story), but it covers most of what I consider to be cool about Flutter.  I’ve been asked what this book is meant to lampoon, given the generalized lampoon of Christianity in Anointed, to which I say it’s predominantly a lampoon of social media, and how easily distracted the world has become by it, and to technology in general.  I’d like to think that I can wield this tale like a weapon, and waggle it in the face of all those who have fallen prey to its mighty grip, but, well, I’m one of them.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, email, blogging, texting, computer games, anything and everything that occurs on the cell phone, and so forth–I’m there.  Or, at least, mostly there.  So are you, most likely.  Be warned: The angels know, and they’re about to do something rash.  Ish.  Rash-ish.  More in the vein of rash, but less rash than rash might be.  Kind of, severe, in that, “Don’t make me come down there,” kind of way.

So, I’ll keep it at that for now.  I hope to offer a few snippets in the coming weeks.  The first will likely be a scene that takes place in God’s Office, as He prepares for a trip to Earth, with the ever-present moan of the Holy Ghost guiding the way.

Until then, I need to go lock the door.  I’m sure Timothy wants to know what to do now.

Dangling From the Vine

So, I’m still amidst MY archeological dig through the desert of MY past.  I don’t know why I insist on it, or what purpose it ultimately serves, but as it amuses ME to no end, well…this is MY blog, right?  So, why not?  I’ve found, in going through these journal entries that date back to high school (which was, what? like only a few years ago, right?  20?  Oh.  Eek!), that I can’t help but feel alien to the little kid who so scribbled his heart onto paper with nothing but the venom of his own emotional fang.  And yet, I find oddities that I might very well have written last week.  Such as this line from January 18th, 1990 (at approximately 5:27 p.m, should you be checking your date book): “Well, somebody wants me to learn patience.  Seeing as how I have none, I don’t find that particularly funny.”  Or I could cite some modern thought in a line from January 25th, of the same year: “I’ve never thought of writing about death before , but riding in that piece o’ shit DC-9 yesterday made me want to.” Or this nugget a couple of months later: “Emotions are like nuclear weapons.  If you mishandle them, they fuck you up.”

I will also quote, once again, MY favorite thus far, which is also from 1990, on March 25th: “Confusion is a state of mind.  I’d like to expand on that, but I can’t.”

Seems I had a lot of interesting things to say that year.  Granted, a lot of it was about celebrity crushes, the end of high school, girls, girls, and more girls (and the never-ending hope that, someday, one would actually like ME), writing and the satisfied confidence that I would someday be rich from it, and various other innanities that I deemed worthy of discussion, but that were as fascinating as the result of a goopy sneeze.

And yet, through 4 years of entries that I have thus far read, I have yet to find any inkling of the man who would write Anointed.  No sense, or sign, or struggle with religion, or God, or Christianity, or the entire mythos surrounding them all.  Humor, sure.  A desire to impale MYSELF upon the blade of loneliness, yup.  A sort of burgeoning awareness of the universe, and the concepts of the law of attraction, true.  But God was just sort of this bearded fella sitting in the, um, the…whatchacallit chair that a tennis umpire (umpire? is that right? Google anyone?) sits in.  He just sort of watched the game I was playing, and occasionally shouted, “Fault!” or, “Out!” or, “Game, Mr. Steele, Life serving!”  It wasn’t an absence from MY writing.  Rather, He was the parent I was trying to impress, the brother I didn’t want to beat ME up, or the best friend I wanted to chat movies with.  To that end, I may have still missed the point of God, after all.  At least the Biblical point, anyhow.  I rather think I nailed the reality of it.  But, as to the future voice of devil fiction that I would become, it was veiled, and notably absent.

The most remarkable thing is that I somehow thought that cogent, coherent, and other-worldly wise, thought was unleashed somewhere beyond the stroke of midnight, a point to which I know, unmistakably now and despite MY efforts to refrain, to be wholly untrue.  When I begin an entry at 4:25 a.m, with the words, “I’m a nutcase,” it seems to imply that I have crossed some immovable line of sanity that I cannot return from, when in fact, I probably had indigestion from too much pizza at midnight to allow ME to sleep, and the remnant of thought that had survived so late into the coming morning, was soundly, and decisively, coated in marinara and pepperoni bits.  Or perhaps Dunkin’ Donuts.  Either would not have been a stretch, both at once quite probable.  The sheer volume of deep, intricate, seemingly unwavering, philosophical thought I vomited after MY brain had officially checked out for the night, actually gives ME more insight into what living in a commune of hippies would be like, than does it MY awakening awareness to a world gone awry that I handled so heavily.

And yet, I’m there, somewhere.  Hiding behind Motley Crue posters, Debbie Gibson mania, and a pen.  Somewhere amidst the pages of, “Strings of the Heart” (gak!  bleh!), the first book I wrote while in high school, and the recap of MY five months dating a stripper, there lies something of who I am.  Somewhere between MY daily whine of loneliness, and MY prattling on about hitting the road and drifting MY way through America.  Somewhere at a beach in Florida, in the back of MY truck, at a campsite in the southern deserts of Arizona, in MY car at the Texas-Mexican border, or in every home I lived in over that time (and there were a few).  Somewhere, in all of that, is ME.  The ME I am.  The ME I still hope to be.  The ME that still insists on pontificating after his carriage has already diffused into a pumpkin, and the mice are nipping at his heels.  I guess I’m glad I wrote all this inane drivel, to be honest.  At least I know that I’m not crazy.  I’ve just always been this way.

Ramble On

No, this is not a post about Led Zepplin, so please put away all pipes, all bottles, and all frilly blonde wigs that you might be digging through your closet to find.  Actually, the truth of the matter is I really don’t have anything to say, which is a bit of a danger, since ME not knowing what I will say usually results in bizarro world type stuff.  For the most part, it’s how I write, and how I get about to writing some of the weird stuff that goes into print.  Which brings to mind what I am working on now.  Since I am without trendy topics, or useful talking points, you get what I know best: ME.

I’ve been working moderately steadily (EEK! Double ‘ly’s) on the follow up to Anointed.  At the moment, it is called Flutter, and aside from following the paths of a few of Anointed‘s favorite line-up, it introduces aspects of Heaven, angels with a grudge, God incognito, a virgin conception, a redemption of Biblical proportions, and social networking gone awry.  Oh, and, Alvin, Simon, & Theodore, now that I think on it, though, as with all things in MY world, even they are not quite what they seem. 

Essentially, there is a portion of the angelic populace (the Malcontents the earlier title represented), that has decided that the experiment known as “humanity” must come to an end.  Their weapon of choice: A social networking device they call, “Flutter.”  There’s only one problem with the plan: Angels aren’t all that smart, and have never done all that well with the, ‘war’, thing.  And, as if their own inadequacies aren’t enough, they also have to deal with the newly christened angel, “Timothy,” and his angel of desire, Natasha, whom as usual, would kind of rather see humans survive.

That’s the short of it, anyway.  If all goes according to schedule, you will hopefully be holding it in hand by summer 2010.  And since I really don’t want to spoil it further, I will instead offer you a look into the world of Flutter, by way of the first chapter.  I have read this twice in public already, and as no one threw rotten shoes, or leathery fruit at ME, then I suppose it wasn’t horrible.  Well, it is for Randall Crane, but that’s the story, isn’t it?

Feel free to pass along your thoughts.  Enjoy!

Chapter One

The Tweet of Death

Randall Crane did not know that he was about to die.  This, in no way, separated him from the rest of humanity, but did make the event rather surprising all the same.  He never looked up from his cell phone to see the car, never realized he had been hit, and witnesses later verified that he did not even appear at all aware that he had moved straight into the intersection.  He was eighty-six characters into an update on Twitter when he was tossed over the roof of a car driven by a very shocked, and later inefficiently suicidal, lawyer.  By no conscious act of his own, but somewhere through the force of the collision, Randall managed to send his partial message, leaving his three-thousand three hundred and sixty-one followers with a cryptic, and modest cliffhanger of a final statement.

#newrev lol@chipperchrist, ez 2 c u there. going 2 c finalized copy, hope it looks goo

When his body hit the pavement, broken and only mostly intact, he was still holding the cell phone.  He felt no pain, sensed no discomfort, and was remarkably coherent for a man who had just been crushed and tossed into the air by a few thousand pounds of unrelenting metal and fiberglass.  For a moment, he just lay there, listening to the screams, the cries for help, and the occasional blast of a car horn, thoroughly confused.  People crowded overtop him, though only briefly, as a good majority of them darted off with their hands cupped over their mouths.  A frazzled gentleman in a business suit, thin-framed glasses, and an expression that spoke in volumes of unrelenting pain, screamed and threw a handful of business cards at him.  Randall couldn’t understand why he had done this, but he could see that the man was in a great deal of distress, and was insistent on being vocal about it, so he said nothing.

But it’s all a bit odd, isn’t it? Randall thought.  Why am I on the ground?  He attempted to move, in order to gain a better view of his situation, but found his vision distracted, not by the oddity of his position, but instead by the pure blue clarity of the cloudless sky.  He was having a terribly hard time remembering the last time he had looked at the sky, or, when it had last seemed so pristine.  For that matter, he was having a hard time remembering when the world looked so…colorful.

“Randall Crane?”

Randall spun his head away from the perfect sky and the screaming, blubbering man in the business suit, and looked at a figure looming just behind him.  He was extraordinarily pale, dark hair curling neatly across his forehead, black pupils complementing the black robe he wore.

“Are you a vampire?”

The pale man looked at him with raised eyebrows.  “Not remotely, no.”

“Oh, well, that’s good,” said Randall.  “I don’t care much for vampires.”

“Have you encountered many?”

Randall thought about that. “No.  None that I can remember, exactly.  I just read a book recently that made me really not like them anymore.  Horrible book.  Bad dialogue.  Shallow characters.”

“I see.  Absorbing though that may be to you, I don’t particularly care.  It is time for you to go.”

“Time to go where?”  Randall attempted to shoo the babbling man and his business cards away, but to no avail.  Several people joined in, attempting to do the very same, but the man was rather hysterical and prepared to be a bit loud about it.

“You should get up now,” said the monotone voice above Randall.

Randall frowned.  “I was thinking that a few seconds ago, you know, but I haven’t yet figured out why I’m down here to begin with.”

“Does that matter?”

“Seems like it should, I think.  Sort of help me to deal with whatever decision I have to make to get myself out of whatever predicament it is that I’ve gotten myself into.  Now that I think about it, I’d appreciate any help you could offer.”

“I am not here to help you,” he said.  “Not in that context, anyhow.”

“Then why are you talking to me?” asked Randall.  “Seems you’re doing nothing more than keeping me from thinking.  I’d rather deal with this guy.” Hysterical Business Card Man was now on his knees and crying.  Randall was starting to feel a touch unnerved by it all.

“This is all quite fascinating, however irrelevant it may be.  You must go.  Now.”

“Go?  Go where?”  The man just stared at him, and feeling a bit odd in his place, and distracted by the babbling man at his side, Randall reluctantly stood.  He felt light and unencumbered, and his thoughts were a bit, well, they were a tad minimal, actually.  There seemed to be a limited number of them to deal with, which was thoroughly abnormal, and more than a little disconcerting.  “Well, how about I ask who you are then?  I’ll worry about my problems later.”

The man seemed to consider this for a time.  “Do you understand what has happened?” he asked finally.

Randall shrugged.  “Beats me.  I was just…just,” he paused, trying to remember exactly what it was that he had been doing.  “Well, I was just doing something.  Talking to someone, I think.  Yes, that was it.  I was Tweeting about my meeting.  Hah!  That rhymes!  I should tweet that!”  Randall looked at his hands for a moment, and then absently patted himself down.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Tweeting.  On Twitter.  140 characters or less.  Updating my daily ongoings, and the like.  Big thing now.  Quite a lot of people interested in what I am doing.  As well they should be.  Hey, have you seen my phone?”

The man offered only a raised eyebrow. 

Randall looked on the ground around his feet.  “Next thing I know, I’m on the ground with people screaming at me.”  Randall motioned to the activity behind him. “Seriously, where’s my phone?  I need to tweet this before I forget.”

“You don’t remember anything else?”

“Depends on what you’re trying to get me to remember.  I remember that I peed myself in fourth grade when my friend Tim shot a spitball in Suzie Perkins’ ear, if that helps.”

“It does not,” said the man, moving a step closer to grip Randall by the shoulder.  He offered something that closely resembled a sigh.  “My name is Gavin.  I am an angel of death, and—” 

“Where’s your scythe, then?” Randall asked, one eye cut to a slit as if trying to peer a line through multiple dimensions.

“Scythe?  I don’t carry a scythe.”

“Well, you can’t very well be Death without the scythe.”

Gavin rolled his eyes, and looked around impatiently.  “Listen, human, I am not Death, I am an angel of death, I don’t carry a scythe—but for what point it matters, I do have a rather fine sword I carry from time to time—and you are dead.”

Randall laughed.  “Dead?  I’m not dead.  I’m quite fine, in fact.  Look at me.  Just because I was on the ground there—whoa!”  He jumped back from the crumpled and bloodied version of himself.  “My arm does not go there!  Where’s my leg?  Hey, there’s my phone.”  Two medics squeezed their way through the crowd, and wasted little time beyond a cursory check for a pulse.  Thirty seconds later, his broken body was blanketed in a white sheet.

Gavin increased his grip on Randall.  “You must go now.”

“Go?  I don’t understand this at all!  I’m fine!  I’m right here!” he shouted at the medics, who were already prepping the gurney.  “Don’t put me on that thing!  I’m not dead!  And give me my phone back!”

“You are, and you must go.”

Randall slapped Gavin’s hand off his shoulder.  “What are you…go where?”

Gavin shrugged.  “Where everyone goes, eventually.”

“Heaven?”

“It’s a possibility.  I’m not a Judge.  Just an angel of death.  Your fate will be theirs to decide.”

Randall scanned the street, and the horrified faces of the people staring at his body as it was lifted onto the gurney.  “My fate?  Heaven?  I can’t go…I can’t be dead!  I have a wife, and kids, and a dog—”

“No, you don’t.”

Randall frowned.  “Oh.  Well, no, I can’t really back that up, but it seemed like the appropriate thing to say.  I was kind of hoping it would help my cause.”  Actually, now that he reflected on it, he was quite sure he remembered something about a wife—his, or, somebody’s wife, any way—and it seemed quite important, but his memory was a bit foggy.  “So, what if I don’t want to go?”

Gavin forced a smile.  “You are dead.  You can’t change that, whether you want to or not.  One way or another, one time or another, you will go.  It’s best if you accept that now, and move on.  Things can get a bit sticky otherwise.”

“Sticky?”

“The Judges don’t take too well to spirits who don’t move on.  You may walk here for a while, haunt friends or places, or whatever you choose, but they will come for you eventually, as do they for everyone, and let me assure you that it will not help your case any.”

“My case?  Judges?  This is ridiculous!  I have to go to this, this, thing that I have to go to!  It’s very important that I—”

“I am fully aware of where you were going.  And had you not met your fate, I am sure that you would have accomplished what you set out to accomplish.  But that’s irrelevant now.  You are dead.  That’s it.  Your road is at an end.  Deal with it and move on.”

“But I don’t want to be dead!”

Gavin offered another sigh.  “Well, that should make all the difference, I imagine.”

“Will it?”

“No.”

“So, what do I do?”

“You choose,” said Gavin.  “That’s all I can offer.  I’m here to help you along.  If you choose to stay, you do so understanding that you are trapped here, unless the Judges decide to retrieve you—a process you may find quite unpleasant.  If you go, you face your inevitability, and the Judges will decide your fate.  Otherwise, you cannot escape two distinct facts: You are dead, and the Judges will have their say.”

For a moment, Randall just looked around, watching the crowd thin, the babbling business card man—who stared at his cell phone as he was consoled, as if it were the cause of his pain—and the doors of the ambulance as they closed on his body, and, apparently, his life.  But Randall could still think, or at least he thought he could think, which was thoughtful in and of itself.  He was still here, and that could only mean that, to some degree, he was still alive.  He couldn’t deny that.  He couldn’t be dead.  Not now.  He still had…still had…something that he was having trouble remembering.

“I’m not dead, and I’m not going,” he said finally.

“Are you sure?”

Randall nodded.  “I’m not dead.  I refuse to accept that my life is over.  I don’t care what you, or these, these judge people say.  I have to go to, well, to wherever it is I have to go, if you don’t mind.”  That said, Randall drove his hands in the pockets of his jeans and walked off.

Gavin watched as the shimmering form of Randall Crane vanished around a corner. “Stupid humans.  So predictable.”

The Path to Redemption

In MYongoing effort to stay current on this here bloggity thing, I am…oh, wait.  No, that won’t work at all.  The correct word would be, “failing.”  I am failing.  That said, I living the spartan life, shaking MYbones to the core of their Old West roots (of which I have none) and enduring a life at home without the interwebbies for which to guide my wayward and lost soul.  Fortunately, there’s Jittery Joe’s, which is not only home to excellent coffee, but free wi-fi.  In a way, I like it.  In another way, it’s a pure living hell being detached from all of the wonderfully useless websites I love to visit.  At some point, the world will right itself, and I will be able to connect anytime I wish.  Either that, or I’m pirating somebody’s signal, with or without the eye-patch, and riding the interwebbie waves of doom to my ultimate peril.  And to yours, if you are so inclined to follow MY ramblings.

So…

I hear the “Lion of the Senate” is dead.  No need to link, I’m sure if you’ve moved today, somebody (television, Internet or random person on the street) has yelled it in your face.  And in an interesting twist of mind, I have come to realization that Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy is the ultimate embodiment of modern religion–most specifically, Christianity.  No, Kennedy was not Christ.  He wasn’t even the cheap knock-off pageant Christ with a bad beard, shady eyeliner, and a bad robe that would better befit a cheap hotel room.  No, he was the ultimate embodiment of sin and redemption.  I think he was baptized by the media, or perhaps just had a really good PR team, because somewhere along the line, his great deeds outweighed his, um, less than great deeds.  This is the guy the murdered a woman, right?  I mean, I’ve heard the litany of excuses, or, “reasons”, for the, “accident”, in which the young girl died, but what cannot be changed is that he walked away from it, and went off into his Kennedy-safe world, where he was, ultimately, protected from prosecution.  Now, before I get carried away on this point, or before I frustrate those who find these remarks tactless, or without proper research, or some such, allow me to keep to the original point.  It cannot be argued that this event will not be at the forefront of articles or documentaries about the man.  In fact, I would be surprised if it was mentioned much at all.  After all, we do not dissect the sins of the fallen.  Rather we praise their achievements.  It’s a human thing.  You’ll find very few roasts at a funeral.

The point I make is this: In the same way that a man could commit a heinous crime, or live a life molded in, “sin”, so too can the same man be redeemed in the eyes of God by a simple wash of the skin.  Jump in a bath with a man of the cloth (which has been done many times in a very improper way as well), confess your sins, and live the life that Christ sacrificed Himself for, and poof!  You’re whole again.  Your demented deeds are forgiven and you are free from the shame and ignominy of your acts, and accepted into the fold, as well as given the keys to the gate of heaven. 

What bothers me with this is that there is no real accountability for what you have done in life.  Maybe there’s a review of your acts in Heaven, and maybe some good finger waggling, but if you have truly turned to Christ (in that same way you might turn to the alternate gender when undergoing a trans-gender surgery…a true commitment there) then you could literally have been the most evil and deranged being on earth, but with a pure heart, with pure actions, with a turn in your soul, it’s all washed away.  I find that the scene in O’ Brother Where Art Thou?when Delmar steps from the river after being baptized, and professes, “all of my sins has been washed away,” that we have, in a microcosm, what is truly wrong with this system.  The system of beliefs only acknowledges wrongdoings in those that are not part of the flock.  Once you are initiated, you are forgiven.  Literally, all the wrongs you have committed, are viewed to have been washed away from who you now are.  See…if I’m God, I don’t have that short of an attention span.  HI, He might say.  REMEMBER ME?  THE GUY WITH THE EIGHT-BALL?  WELL, IT SO HAPPENS THAT I AM NOT ENTIRELY DAMP, YOU KNOW?  I SAW ALL OF THOSE THINGS YOU DID, AND IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU NOW COME TO TERMS WITH THEM.  I CANNOT HELP YOU WITH THAT.  GOOD LUCK.  SEE YOU WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND.

Because, truly, does a child understand the wrongs it has committed if its father or mother promptly forgives without explanation upon hearing the child profess true sorrow and a willingness to live properly?  I mean, does that help the child at all?  Do we truly believe that one simple moment like this will, once and for all, leave the child with no true course but that of purity?  Well, no, of course not.  The child is still human, after all.  It will wrong again.  And if it knows it can be forgiven, if it knows it can avoid the pain and suffering of ultimate punishment, then it will apologize again, sincerely, be forgiven, and move on.  Sometimes, a child just needs a good smack on the rump to realize how far it has fallen into a path it should not walk.  And that is a pain, a reminder, that lingers. 

Don’t get ME wrong here.  Senator Kennedy is no more or less a sinner than any one of us.  He just happened to have taken a life along the way there.  The one facet of Christianity I will agree with is that we are all sinners.  Hell, we are all human.  Such is the way.  If weren’t, there wouldn’t be much point to life, would there?  There would be nothing to learn.  Nothing from which to grow, spiritually speaking.  There would just be…life, and not-life.  Kind of like sitting at home all day, never having to work, never having to worry for growth.  Just play Wii and be happy.  Then, someday, the Wii gets shut off, and you leave.

So, praise the man, praise his acts, praise everything that he may or may not have meant to the political landscape, but remember what he did along the way.  What he did to get there.  What he must now, whether we mention it or not, come to terms with.  A woman died because of his actions.  If we forget that, then there truly is no such thing as judgment.

So…yeah.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Kicking Around in the Dust Bin

I was doing MY writerly duties this morning (and, as always, seeking a way to use the word, “duties,” in a sentence), when I found an dust bin of old writings pertaining to God and the creation of the Universe.  Well, MY universe, that is to say.  The Anointed universe, to be more precise.  At that point in MY life, everything I wrote about linked back to God and MY never-ending ambitions to twist His universe into something more likely to appease MY need to understand it.  So, I decided, since it amused ME to no end, to share it with you.  Enoy and feel free to drop in your thoughts.  I have more of these, and I’m not entirely sure how many of them will find their way into books.  So, they’ll end up out here, until I decide that they need to all be collected and put in a book that I will call, “Stuff That Makes No Sense.”

Enjoy.

In the beginning, the Creator created God.  And God looked upon his Creator, saw that he was good, and denied him anyway.  God then created heaven and earth, an occupational playground for his thorn-bristle curiosity, filled them with beings of light and flesh, commanded their love and adoration, and reigned as the universe’s first atheist.

There is a mode of thought that goes something like this:

The illusory nature of life is, in and of itself, infinite by design.  Spatial law disallows the limitation of thought, and or, to that end, the universe.  One cannot, in this sense, prescribe by way of mental apathy, a fixation on finality, an apocalyptic end of all, or a frontier that is anything but endless.  The resulting impact of such a contradiction of reasoning—the absence of infinity implied—would be paramount to a cosmic implosion. 

Life—or the universe more accurately—in this roving pontification of philosophical thought knotting, is akin to the proclamation that a single balloon may encapsulate a planetary mass of water, thereby solidifying the postulation that infinite structure can be limited by intellectual bounds.  It is akin to this only by way of structural integrity, in that, any attempt to bind infinity precipitates cataclysmic rupture.  And to the dimwit saturated by the deluge of celestial innards no longer flowing free on the planetary body but a glacial iceberg drifting now unchecked through the cosmos, there is only resignation of hope, desecration of a formerly proud and sage intellect, and the deferred sentiment, “Oh, wow, guess I was wrong then, huh?  Terribly sorry there.  Infinite it is.”

Such is the banality of the grand illusion of life.

It is the dogmatic individuals of this same school of thought that first challenged the heavenly hierarchy.  First challenged the existentialism and divine right to supremacy of God.  It is true, they would say, that in the beginning God created heaven and earth, but in the beginning of what?  And in the beginning of that unspecified and mystical time, who created God?  And in the beginning of God, who created the universe?  Could it not be stated, they would continue, that the very nature of existence, infinite in bounds, infinite in proportions, immeasurable in perception, could be nothing more than the wandering thoughts of a twelve-year-old boy named Elijah Emmanuel?  Could we be but the imaginative concoctions of a child genius?

Of course, it should also be stated that another of the more famous of their idle bits of pondering was, “Say, there sure are a lot of you with torches.  Are we having a bonfire?”  Which is something to take into account as you read on.

Still, it is said that no other collection of thought has since breached the innate wisdom of this collection of nomadic thinkers.  It could be said this because almost all concerned were promptly lynched and burned at the stake as heretics, the rest scattered and rendered philosophically mute.  Which is a shame, human compassion aside, because it could be said that this group of cindered prophets and future spiritual mimes of the world were the only group to have ever gotten it right.  It could be said that they had transcended truth and defined existence to the letter.

So it could be said.  Though one would be hard pressed to contrive the means by which to prove it.

Just one of those faith things.

God created man in his image.  And to a degree this is true.  As God is, in effect, a being of infinite light, so too is man, albeit with a pliable sheath of protection.  Beings of infinite light have a rather poor sense of restriction and tend to encompass, well, everything.  So, it is man who stands as the beneficiary of this practical yet fleshy veneer as it eliminates the continuation of only one singular being of infinite light and instead creates billions of beings of light with Dura-last coating and a singular purpose: existence in the world of a singular God.

Which is all well and good because it brought a sense of purpose to God as well.

Leaving NYC

I couldn’t help but notice, as I was looking over the dashboard to the blog to approve some comments (& blast some junk into oblivion, with some Schwartzenegger like “You’ll be trashed” line in my head), that the corner of the page that details the most often used search results to locate my blog had the following 3 as the top choices:

  1. “Zachary Steele”, “Author Tour”
  2. “zachary steele”, “NYC”
  3. “zachary steele”, “giraffe sex”

Now, please, whichever one of you did the third one, please, please, please, oh for the love of everything holy, please, let me know.  BRILLIANT!  I don’t know if I’m more amused that it exists, or that it worked.  Either way, I’m totally honored to be found under the search heading of “giraffe sex” despite the fact that I have neither written about it, or to my knowledge, had it.

Giraffe sex.  Tee hee.

So, my NYC escapades are at an end.  No pictures today, nor any from last night.  The camera is packed, and the room looks less of a disaster now that everything is placed quasi-neatly in the suitcase.  The coffee has finally woken me from my morning stupor, bringing ME to from a late night, and short sleep.  Last night at The Tank, I had the 2nd of 2 events, and rounded out a birthday celebration without song or fanfare for the first time since I drove alone to Montana.  Harry Terjanian was a hoot and seemed well at ease railing on religion.  We were a small group, but one prepared to laugh, and he didn’t disappoint.  Though I could cite a number of well delivered punchlines, his run on the disappointment of Easter candy was my favorite.  The idea that the large Chocolate Easter Bunnies, are “chocolate covered air” is still cracking ME up.

I plopped MYSELF up on the edge of the stage for what amounted to a cozy little story time with a handful of rapt listeners.  I gave the first chapter of Angelic Malcontentsanother go, and am now convinced that it’s going in the right direction.  The unicorn-head maid lady (did I hear Andora? or was that Andromeda?) was there again, at MY side as I read.  I’m less creeped out by her now, and find MYSELF chatting her up, just in case.  You never know.  She could be real somewhere, and though I’m not soliciting MYSELF to her, it’s always good to keep an open friendship with any potential unicorn-head maid ladies in the universe.  Seems like having one for an enemy could be rather unpleasant.  Just sayin’.

So, all in all it was a great trip.  Saw plenty.  Heard plenty.  Talked plenty.  Read a lot.  And stowed away, for future use, much more story content than even I could have planned for.  Thanks to everyone who has kept up, and I look forward to getting home, where MY wife is likely to squeeze ME into an alternate universe, and my dog is likely to have a coronary, after spending nearly 4 days convinced I was never coming home.  Time to give up this awesome view of Manhattan, take MY weary butt downstairs, and begin the trek to Laguardia by way of train and bus.  Cost savings aside, I’m good for one cab  ride per trip here.  Already did that, and I think I lost a few years in the process.  No need to lose more.  I might lose more hair.  Not ready for that yet.

Giraffe sex.